Propulsion on a superhydrophobic ratchet

Sci Rep. 2014 Jun 13;4:5280. doi: 10.1038/srep05280.


Liquids in the Leidenfrost state were shown by Linke to self-propel if placed on ratchets. The vapour flow below the liquid rectified by the asymmetric teeth entrains levitating drops by viscosity. This effect is observed above the Leidenfrost temperature of the substrate, typically 200°C for water. Here we show that coating ratchets with super-hydrophobic microtextures extends quick self-propulsion down to a substrate temperature of 100°C, which exploits the persistence of Leidenfrost state with such coatings. Surprisingly, propulsion is even observed below 100°C, implying that levitation is not necessary to induce the motion. Finally, we model the drop velocity in this novel "cold regime" of self-propulsion.